Gov. Brian Kemp’s office has raised concerns about the possibility of Buckhead breaking away from Atlanta to become its own city. One day after Senate’s State and Local Governmental Operations Committee passed S.B. 114 by a 4-3 vote led by Republican lawmakers, Kemp’s office pushed back.
S.B. 113 is another bill that seeks to separate Buckhead from Atlanta. Both bills are sponsored by lawmakers who reside outside of metro Atlanta.
Kemp’s Executive Counsel David Dove sent a memo that urged lawmakers to resolve several issues with S.B. 114 before moving it forward to the Senate. Legally, it could be a quagmire for Buckhead to become its own city and those who proposed secession have yet to provide answers on key issues.
Dove questioned how the bill could impact municipal bonds and how widespread default could occur. There is also the issue of students who live in Buckhead who attend Atlanta Public Schools. For instance, North Atlanta High is located in Buckhead and is a part of APS. If Buckhead becomes a city, students and schools would be impacted.
What will happen to Atlanta-owned properties such as parks that Buckhead City may not purchase? Parks that are owned by the City of Atlanta are patrolled by the Atlanta Police Department. A new city could cause more confusion when it comes to safety.
Democrat Sen. Jason Esteves called the proposed bill a “half-baked pie” that would have a devastating impact on the city of Atlanta and Atlanta Public School system.
The bill would allow a future Buckhead City to buy Chastain and Memorial Park for $100 per acre, Atlanta fire stations for $5,000 each, and buildings and schools for $1,000 each.
In 2022, a similar bill was tabled by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan who called it a “cheap sales pitch that you vote for the city and crime goes away, all of us know that’s not true.”
Mayor Andre Dickens has opposed Buckhead cityhood and has worked on finding ways to keep the affluent area apart of Atlanta.
“I told you a year ago that I draw circles and I don’t draw lines,” Dickens said. “I’m a hell of an engineer. I can draw just about anything. …But I choose to draw circles, bringing us all together, working with the state across the street, working with those state legislators, as well as our governor and lieutenant governor. And I’ve been true to do that over this last year.”
Gov. Brian Kemp would need to sign off on the bill to make it law. But it appears that he would not sign the bill as its currently presented.